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American Jews' Attachment to Israel by Age, Ideology and Political Party:

Profs. Steven Cohen and Ari Kelman recently published a study describing American Jews' attachment to (or alienation from) Israel, measured by various metrics. Not surprisingly, the study found that young Jews were less attached to Israel than are older Jews. (This is not surprising for a variety of reasons, including that young Jews are less likely to have close relatives in Israel; have no personal recollection of the Holocaust or the collective Jewish trauma of the pre-Six Day War period, when many thought that Israel's existence was in jeopardy; tend to be less involved in Jewish communal organizations than older Jews; are more likely to have a non-Jewish parent, and thus feel less ethnically tied to other Jews; and have grown up at a time when Israel has been the "overdog," not the underdog.)

More surprising is that the attachment of Jews to Israel is largely uncorrelated with political party or political ideology. The original study didn't have much data in this regard, so I emailed Prof. Cohen and asked him for more data, which he both produced and gave me permission to reproduce here. One caveat is that these data are only for non-Orthodox Jews; however Orthodox Jews constituted only 7% of the sample.

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Report
Attachment to Israel
Age: 4 groups Political viewpoint Political party identification Mean N
Under 35 Liberal Democrat 57.6037 167
Independent 47.1821 22
Republican 55.0421 5
Total 56.3686 194
Moderate Democrat 59.4150 69
Independent 64.7171 50
Republican 56.7198 22
Total 60.8721 142
Conservative Democrat 72.5273 18
Independent 18.2390 8
Republican 58.1121 23
Total 57.1759 48
Total Democrat 59.1416 254
Independent 55.5140 80
Republican 57.1860 50
Total 58.1345 384
35-49 Liberal Democrat 57.8028 130
Independent 49.6224 23
Republican 73.7372 7
Total 57.2900 159
Moderate Democrat 61.6369 72
Independent 61.0135 52
Republican 65.9953 25
Total 62.1536 148
Conservative Democrat 58.3836 20
Independent 62.6087 10
Republican 69.0700 28
Total 64.2589 58
Total Democrat 59.0959 222
Independent 58.1100 85
Republican 68.3032 60
Total 60.3691 366
50-64 Liberal Democrat 66.2014 156
Independent 66.8340 19
Republican 91.5844 1
Total 66.4168 176
Moderate Democrat 69.3973 109
Independent 64.8165 58
Republican 70.8925 15
Total 68.0630 181
Conservative Democrat 66.3556 21
Independent 58.3789 14
Republican 77.9956 25
Total 69.3686 61
Total Democrat 67.4279 286
Independent 64.2194 90
Republican 75.7919 41
Total 67.5581 418
65+ Liberal Democrat 69.8238 139
Independent 71.0535 23
Republican 13.0294 1
Total 69.5106 164
Moderate Democrat 72.4111 86
Independent 70.1217 68
Republican 74.4040 19
Total 71.7293 173
Conservative Democrat 72.5415 16
Independent 76.6613 14
Republican 76.4829 22
Total 75.3312 52
Total Democrat 70.9271 241
Independent 71.1940 106
Republican 73.4419 42
Total 71.2737 389
Total Liberal Democrat 62.7847 592
Independent 58.4755 87
Republican 62.4214 14
Total 62.2382 693
Moderate Democrat 66.4597 336
Independent 65.5202 228
Republican 66.3035 81
Total 66.1081 645
Conservative Democrat 66.9808 75
Independent 58.2548 46
Republican 70.5303 98
Total 66.7440 218
Total Democrat 64.3273 1003
Independent 62.9024 360
Republican 68.1667 193
Total 64.4735 1556

Given these statistics, the prevalent notion that "right-wing Jews" are dominating American Jewish organizations' Israel policy seems almost farcical. Given that liberal Jews are as attached to Israel as conservative Jews, and that there are a lot more liberal Jews than conservative Jews, it's highly unlikely that the right-wingers are in control almost anywhere.

Comment away below.

UPDATE: I almost forgot, Prof. Cohen cautions that any individual finding based on an N of less than 40 should not be deemed reliable.

Ilya Somin:
David,

What is the range of the "attachment" variable? Eyeballed superficially, it is possible that the difference between liberal Democrats' mean 62.8 attachment to Israel and conservative Republicans' mean of 70.5 might be significant.
9.12.2007 4:57pm
GV:
I'm confused. How does describing yourself as having an "attachment to" (as opposed to being "alienated from") Israel relate to the question of whether you take part in American Jewish organizations' Israel policy? I'm sure I'm missing something obvious here, but I don't see how one is related to the other? Your explaination seems to be in this sentence: "Given that liberal Jews are as attached to Israel as conservative Jews, and that there are a lot more liberal Jews than conservative Jews, it's highly unlikely that the right-wingers are in control almost anywhere." I don't see how that follows.
9.12.2007 5:01pm
Bruce McCullough (mail):
David,

The "Under 35" "Liberal" "Democrat" has "N=167" and "mean=57.6037".

57.6037 what? What is the unit of measurement?

Regards,

Bruce
9.12.2007 5:11pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Bruce,

people having an attachment, perhaps?
9.12.2007 5:12pm
abb3w:
Prof. Cohen cautions that any individual finding based on an N of less than 40 should not be deemed reliable.

Except perhaps the lone self-described liberal republican Jew, as the one found may be the entire statistical universe in question. =)
9.12.2007 5:15pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Given that liberal Jews are as attached to Israel as conservative Jews, and that there are a lot more liberal Jews than conservative Jews, it's highly unlikely that the right-wingers are in control almost anywhere.

Uhh, no. Although I very strongly disagree with the meme pushed by Mearshimer, et al. (and unlike David think it is motivated in large part by antisemitic stereotypes), one can be attached to Israel and still disagree strongly with AIPAC's positions and the positions of the Likud and other right wing Israeli parties. Thus, this study proves nothing.
9.12.2007 5:20pm
liberty (mail) (www):
hm... it is confusing. Mean, not percentage... what does it mean?
9.12.2007 5:22pm
WWJRD (mail):
Perhaps like the extremist settlers in Israel, those who describe themself as attached no matter their party affiliation make up for the enthusiasm for Israel regardless her actions.

It's not a quantity thing; it's more how far are those attached willing to go to support that attachment? And those settlers, for example, were willing to go pretty darned far.
9.12.2007 5:22pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
I'm sure I'm missing something obvious here, but I don't see how one is related to the other?

You're not missing anything. I have a strong attachment to Israel, and in party because of that, I find AIPAC and similar groups to be deplorable as their politics are out of touch with mainstream Israelis (and mainstream American Jews whom they claim to represent) and their policies push for aggressive war-like positions but it's not their kids who will bear the brunt of their unrealistic policies. (Just like other Republicans in this country.)
9.12.2007 5:25pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
For the attachment measures, see the original study, that I linked to.

And sure, the study doesn't PROVE that right-wing Jews don't control American Jewish organizations, but given that, for example, in the age 50-64 cohort, liberal and moderate Jews outnumber conservatives 6 to 1, you'd have to tell quite a story to explain how the conservatives nevertheless manage to dominate mainstream Jewish organization like AIPAC.

One could still argue that some liberal Jews have "right-wing" views on Israel, but then it's not a question of "right-wing Jews," a convenient enemy for the Juan Cole/Daily Kos crowd, but their fellow liberals.
9.12.2007 5:46pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Professor Bernstein is ignoring the disparities between polls of what positions American Jews take re: Israel and the positions taken by AIPAC.

He's also assuming that if you have an "affinity for Israel", that's the same thing as supporting the positions of AIPAC.

It seems to me those two things are fatal to his point.

(I should add that actually, a better point to make against the Walt-Mersheimer thesis is that "the Lobby" is not monolithic. There are in fact plenty of American Jewish organizations that DO NOT advocate the sort of Likudnik positions that AIPAC associates itself with. They may not have as much power, but there are many Israel lobbies, not one "Lobby", and they don't agree with each other.)
9.12.2007 5:57pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
Actually, there are two liberal Republican Jews, one under 65 and one 65 or over.

As usual, I buck the trend: 35-49 conservative Republican Jew with next to no attachment to Israel. Hell, just conservative Republican with no attachment bucks the trend. Indeed, so does being a conservative Jew at all...

Why are so many Jews liberal, anyway? Wouldn't we of all people understand the importance of not passing laws that may have unforeseen consequences?
9.12.2007 6:00pm
Kelvin McCabe:

"Given that liberal Jews are as attached to Israel as conservative Jews, and that there are a lot more liberal Jews than conservative Jews, it's highly unlikely that the right-wingers are in control almost anywhere."

This brings up an interesting point- i have absolutely no problem with Jewish people (liberal or conservative) being pro-Isreal. But i do have a problem lumping all liberals (jewish and non) together. I call it the Lieberman effect. Joe Liberman is considered liberal by many conservatives, because of his stance on most issues - but when it comes to the middle east, he is not viewed as "liberal" by other liberals, he is considered a right-wing hawk. Whether this is justified or not, i do not know. The point being, even anAmerican Jewish Organization that is composed entirely of liberals could theoretically take stances that are perceived by other liberals as right wing or hawkish - so while the leadership may be liberal in a social sense, when it comes to Middle East Policy or Isreal, they could fairly be described as right wing because their views happen to align with a certain segment of the American political spectrum that shares their view and which is on the right.

I am not saying this makes them wrong or non-liberal, im just saying the perception among non-jews may be overly influenced by this very natural affinity jews of all political spectrums have for the well being and safety of Isreal.
9.12.2007 6:12pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
David, your inclusion of Daily Kos is simply incorrect. There have been many recommended pro-Israel diaries -- during the Lebanon War last summer, the community was split down the middle with Kos and other front-pagers staying out of it (obviously, not wanting to alienate either side).

It appears you are getting your information re Daily Kos from LGF, Powerline and other right-wing trolls. Diaries, such as the infamous "Israel has no right to exist", which are antisemitic or blatantly anti-Israel (in that they question its very right to exist), are almost always troll-rated.

You should research those issues before libeling a whole community.
9.12.2007 6:18pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Why are so many Jews liberal, anyway?

Tikkun Olam.
9.12.2007 6:19pm
Blar (mail) (www):
Given these statistics, the prevalent notion that "right-wing Jews" are dominating American Jewish organizations' Israel policy seems almost farcical.

Non sequitur.

The way to find out if the Israel policy of American Jewish organizations is "right wing" is to, first, look at the Israel policy of American Jewish organizations, and second, see how that Israel policy fits into the spectrum of views on Israel, either among American Jews or among all Americans. The feelings of attachment towards Israel of American Jews just don't enter the picture.
9.12.2007 6:24pm
Spitzer:
The numbers are a little confusing. For instance, for liberal republicans over the age of 64, the N=1, but the mean=13.0294. Does that suggest that, with respect to that one liberal republican, a little over 13% of his body is attached to Israel?
9.12.2007 6:30pm
Justin (mail):
"Given these statistics, the prevalent notion that "right-wing Jews" are dominating American Jewish organizations' Israel policy seems"

The presumption seems to be that the organizations are either representative or democratically chosen from the American Jewish "electorate" at large. This presumption, while not necessarily false, does not seem obviously true, either.
9.12.2007 6:37pm
Shelby (mail):
David:
For the attachment measures, see the original study, that I linked to.

The linked study is pretty sizeable; it takes rather a while to even skim. Can you summarize what the authors' use of "mean" means in this context? Or at least say what page to look at?
9.12.2007 7:00pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Hi, I'm checking out for Rosh Hashanah. Happy New Year to all our Jewish readers.

But a closing point: I have yet to see any actualy evidence that AIPAC is "right-wing": AIPAC, for example, supported aid to the P.A. during the Oslo years, over the vehement objections of truly "right-wing" groups, like the ZOA. AIPAC, being a pro-Israel lobby, does naturally tend to support Likud governments when they are in power, as they've mostly been since 1977, but I haven't seen evidence that they have been less supportive of Labor governments, such as Rabin's. They also will cooperate with Republicans when they've been in power, as they have mostly been since 1980. The combination of these two factors may make them seem "right-wing," but again the question is, e.g., was AIPAC less friendly to Rabin than Shamir? To Clinton than Bush II?

The other thing AIPAC, like any other important Washington lobby, does, is do whatever will help it aggregate power. Amoral power-grabbing is obviously not "right-wing," as such.

Finally, for what it's worth, AIPAC's alleged tilt to the right started in early 80s, but I knew a lot of college kids active in AIPAC in the mid to late 80s, and they were almost all liberals, and mostly appalled that I wasn't.
9.12.2007 7:40pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I have a couple of quibbles with the study. First, they conclude that intermarriage causes less attachment to Israel. Once again, correlation is not causation. It's fairly obvious that those who are less attached to Judaism are less likely to limit their relationships to other Jews, and that those who are less attached to Judaism are also less likely to be attached to Israel.

Second, by Tutins' Law of Central Tendency, everyone tends to believe that they are moderates. Therefore I would not trust any self-description; specific validated questions must be used. Though they stated their political parties, both Democrats and Republicans are fairly "big tent."

(Similarly, liberals tend to believe that moderates are right-wingers and conservatives tend to believe that moderates are left-wingers.)

One area I think they missed: In my experience people with friends or family living in Israel are really attached to Israel. I would have asked that question.
9.12.2007 7:46pm
r78:

Given these statistics, the prevalent notion that "right-wing Jews" are dominating American Jewish organizations' Israel policy seems almost farcical.

Let us count the ways that this argument is absurd: 1) what does "attachment" mean, exactly 2) "attachment" has no relationship to "dominance" at all (for example, if "right-wing Jews" as a category are much more politically active, then they could readily dominate policy, 3) you assume that all Jews are equally active in "Jewish organizations" - see point 2 re this, 4) you assume - without any evidence - that the is a connection between "Israel policy" and "attachment" (for example, you could be "attached" to Israel and also think that it is beyond reproach just as you could be "attached" to Israel and think its conduct is horrible. Just as the opposite of those is true).

The point of this post is apparently to try to take a swipe at Walt and Mearsheimer's book. But, if you were to read it, instead of just criticizing it while making a point of saying that you have not read it, you would see that they do not contend that the Israel lobby includes only Jews (let alone those that are or are not "attached" it Israel.

Oh, did you notice that the Walt and Mersheimer book is on the NYT best seller's list?
9.12.2007 8:03pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Happy New Year, David.
9.12.2007 8:05pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Oh, did you notice that the Walt and Mersheimer book is on the NYT best seller's list?

Not surprising. People like David probably are making furious notes in the margin, refuting each and every argument raised by the authors. You need your own copy if you want to mark it up.
9.12.2007 8:11pm
anon252 (mail):
I'm missing what this post is supposed to have to do with Mearsheimer and Walt. They construe the "Israel lobby" as every actively pro-Israel person in the country, liberal or conservative, Jew or Gentile.
9.12.2007 8:19pm
liberty (mail) (www):
Spitzer wins best comment.
9.12.2007 10:27pm
Bruce McCullough (mail):
David,

When I wondered what the units of measurement are, you indicated that I should read the document. I did. The data in the table you report appear nowhere in the document.

Page 11 refers to "a summary scale measuring overall attachment to Israel" with no indication of how this scale was calculated.

So if the "Under 35" "Liberal" "Democrat" has "N=167" and "mean=57.6037", there apparently is no answer to my question, "57.6037 what?" 57.6037 somethings? 57.6036 nothings? 57.6037 attachmentites?

Joe has 60 attachments and Fred has 40 attachments, so their average attachment is 50. How do is Joe's degree of attachment calculated? How is Fred's degree of attachment calculated?

Until we know what is being measured, how can we interpret it or discuss it?

Regards,

Bruce
9.12.2007 11:37pm
Latinist:
I want to see a debate between that one 50-to-64-year-old liberal Republican Jew who's really strongly attached to Israel, and that one 65-or-more-year-old liberal Republican Jew who's hardly attached to Israel at all.
9.12.2007 11:45pm
Dave N (mail):
I am amazed, I thought the last liberal Jewish Republican was Jacob Javits--but Wikipedia tells us he had three children, and there is, of course, the chance one kept his father's political affiliation and has no attachment to Israel. Mystery solved.
9.13.2007 12:47am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I am amazed, I thought the last liberal Jewish Republican was Jacob Javits
What, Arlen Specter doesn't count?
9.13.2007 2:31am
vukdog:


The data came from Prof. Cohen himself and were not published in the report. Don't feel bad I missed that myself.
9.13.2007 2:40am
vukdog:
The questions the means were presumably derived from do appear in the appendix however.
9.13.2007 2:44am
Dave N (mail):
David M. Nieporent,

You are right. My bad. I forgot about Arlen Specter--though in defense of my post I was trying to figure out who the one liberal Jewish Republican over age 65 might be. And while Senator Specter is a liberal Republican, the "liberal" modifies "Republican" which might more likely qualify him as a Centrist. Politically, I think Javits was more liberal than Specter--and was liberal, period. So I have a rational response to your comment. But in honesty, I just didn't think of Specter until after you posted.
9.13.2007 3:36am